How a Siberian Academic Startup is Rethinking Human Nature | School of Advanced Studies, SAS UTMN

How a Siberian Academic Startup is Rethinking Human Nature | School of Advanced Studies, SAS UTMN


Do we have free will or are we determined? What is community? How does community arise? Can we think about community between humans and non-human animals? How technology is going to think when it becomes autonomous? SAS was conceived as a portal to the outside world. It’s located in Western Siberia but it deals with the global issues. It’s a great opportunity to actually be somewhere where there is a genuine
research culture. That’s very supportive. SAS is one of the few
places in the world where you can really do interdisciplinary research. It doesn’t have formal structure in the way traditional universities have. There’s no rank here. This creates sort of a more
collegial atmosphere and it also creates a more competitive one. We are looking for
researchers who are good in their disciplines but who are also capable of
going outside the disciplines. So it seems that actually there is a physical or neurobiological activity in the brain which decides instead of the conscious person himself. So this makes you rethink what humans in society are. We don’t really know what it means to be human. I think we need to try to better
understand ourselves, accept the fact that we are
not separate from the matter, but we are part of it and at the same time try to rethink the basic
assumptions about our relation. What’s wrong with our current or the globalized West’s current relationship with nature is that it’s primarily instrumental.
By showing sort of historically how human beings relationship
to the natural world has changed we can open up more possibilities for the future. We are not trying
to fill the students’ heads with ideas or more books or more information. What’s interesting for me is giving
them the cognitive and analytical skills for them to deal with this sort
of unpredictable future that we all seem to think we’re facing. So it’s not so much about making
people second class robots. We’re trying to make characters.
We’re trying to make individuals. Major benefits are connected to the fact
that we are a greenfield, we a new institution.
Everything here is in the flux. It was a new opportunity
to get it at the ground floor to create a new institution for preparing
young people for the 21st century. If you have an idea and you want to realize
that this is a place you can do it. It’s a unique place

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